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Motorola Moto G10 review: Perfect ten?

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
130
inc. VAT

The Moto G10 isn’t the fastest around, but it still has much going for it

Pros 
Well-priced
Decent camera
Strong battery life
Cons 
Sluggish performance
The Moto G30 offers a lot more for an extra £30
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The Motorola G series has had remarkable longevity for a smartphone built on razor-thin margins. While many of the handset’s rivals in the budget space have fallen by the wayside in the eight years since the original Moto G appeared, Motorola continues to dominate the £100-£250 price bracket, giving us the victory lap of a Moto G10.

But is it really a victory lap? The Moto G10 is, even by Moto G standards, worryingly cheap. Has Motorola really managed to produce a quality handset for £30 less than the price of the entry-level Moto G9 Play?

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Motorola Moto G10 review: What you need to know

Over the years, Motorola has flip-flopped between Qualcomm chipsets. The Moto G5 and G6 featured budget-friendly Snapdragon 400 processors, while the G7, G8 and G9 family all shared flavours of Snapdragon 600. This time around, Motorola is back to a 400, with the octa-core 1.8GHz Snapdragon 460 doing the heavy lifting, backed by 4GB of RAM.

The Moto G10 is a 6.5in handset with a 720p screen and a chunky 5,000mAh battery, which is something Motorola tells us is very important to consumers. Although, I doubt many people know the average smartphone battery size.

As is the fashion, there are no fewer than four cameras on the rear of the handset: a 48MP f/1.7 main sensor, an 8MP f/2.2 ultra-wide angle snapper and two 2MP f/2.4 numbers: one for depth and the other for macro photography.

Motorola Moto G10 review: Price and competition

The Motorola Moto G10 sells for just £130. That’s staggeringly cheap, and the competition at this price is pretty thin on the ground. The Nokia 3.4 is also £130, but that’s pretty much the only rival we can think of for the same price.

It’s £30 less than the £160 Moto G9 Play – which also happens to cost the same as the Samsung Galaxy A21s and Nokia 5.4. All of this makes the very competitive £179 Realme 7 look positively pricey, even if it can be had for around £150 these days. That said, Motorola’s last super-cheap entry – the Moto E6 Plus – can still claim to be in even more select company, as it manages to creep under three figures at £99.

Oh, and Motorola also announced the £160 Moto G30 at the same time.

Motorola Moto G10 vs Moto G30: What’s the difference?

For only £30 more, you get a lot more phone with the Moto G30 – albeit not three times’ as much as the name suggests.

There are four main areas of difference. Firstly, the processor: the Moto G30 gets a speedier Qualcomm Snapdragon 662, compared to the 460 in the G10. Secondly, although the 6.5in screen shares the same 720p resolution (the transparent cases provided with each fit both), it includes an optional 90Hz refresh rate for smoother performance.

The Moto G30 also has a 64MP main camera and a 13MP front-facing lens, as well as a boost to 128GB of internal storage, rather than 64GB.

Motorola Moto G10 review: Design

At a glance, the Moto G10 shares an awful lot of DNA with the G9 series. It’s a fine looking phone by all accounts, with the only real giveaway that you’re not holding a flagship being the couple of millimeters of bezel which double around the chin area and the plastic back.

Motorola has tried something a little different with the shell this time around, introducing 29 textured waves on the back, which give it a distinctive look and make it marginally more grippy. Unusually, the handset’s waste disposal information is printed on the bottom of the phone next to the USB-charging port, rather than on the back with every other phone I can remember.

Like the G9 series, the fingerprint reader is embedded into the circular Motorola logo on the back of the phone, and the four cameras are contained within a rectangular hump in the top left-hand corner. On the front, the selfie camera is contained in a small notchelette that extends from the bezel in the top-middle of the screen.

The model sent to us for review is the “Aurora Grey” variant, but it also comes in “Sakura Pearl'', which looks more white from pictures. With this shade the black bezel stands out quite a bit more.

Overall, it’s a strong look, especially for a handset that retails for a ridiculous £130. And because this is a Moto G phone, you’re pretty much guaranteed consumer-friendly options that you won’t see on Apple’s top iPhones. This includes a 3.5mm headphone jack, as well as microSD cards up to 512GB in size, expanding the 64GB of built-in memory. It’s a hybrid slot, too, meaning you can whack in an additional SIM instead, if you prefer.

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Motorola Moto G10 review: Screen

The Motorola Moto G10’s screen may not sound much on paper – an IPS 1,600 x 720 panel stretched over 6.5in for a total of 269 pixels per inch – but it’s actually really good for the price.

Our colorimeter found the G10 covered 86.7% of the sRGB gamut with a volume of 98.9%. Contrast was also impressive, recording 1927:1, and a maximum screen brightness of 377cd/m2 should be fine on all but the brightest of sunny days.

In short, it’s a good screen and about par for the course with the cheaper Moto Gs. The Moto G Plus models tend to be a little more colour accurate, but for £130 you’d certainly have no right in complaining here.

Motorola Moto G10 review: Performance

So far, so good. But if you were confidently predicting that things would take a turn when it comes to day-to-day performance, then congratulations: you’re spot on. To recap, the Moto G10 uses an octa-core 1.8GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 460 paired with 4GB of RAM.

Right out of the box, the Moto G10 feels sluggish and unresponsive. It’s nothing show stopping, but it’s a clear indicator of things to come; the keyboard takes a couple of seconds to pop up after you tap on a text field, apps sit on the logo for a little longer than you’d expect, and anything previewed on the camera screen feels a bit choppy as you move around the frame.

As you can see from the chart below, the benchmarks confirm the Moto G10 is a bit of a slouch compared to the entry-level £160 Moto G9 Play and last year’s £150 Nokia 5.3. It pulls well clear of the £150 Moto E6 Plus, but that’s nearly 18 months old now, and it was £100 at launch. Yes, the Moto G10 is just £130, but at this price a bit more cash makes a big difference in terms of performance. The Moto G30, for instance, feels a lot smoother for just £30 more, and you could get a Realme 7 for £150 if you shop around.

It’s a familiar story in terms of graphical performance, too. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security by the reassuringly long red line – the orange result (offscreen) is the one to pay attention to, as it levels the playing fields between the handsets. With that taken into account, you can clearly see that the Moto G10 is a little behind the £150 Nokia 5.3 and Moto G30, and is in an entirely different postcode to the Realme 7.

Fortunately, battery life is as solid as we’ve come to expect from every recent Moto G handset. The 5,000mAh battery gave us a total of 21hrs 14mins in our looped video battery test, which beats both the Nokia 5.3 and Realme 7 handsomely. The only fly in the ointment here is that the Moto G30’s Snapdragon 662 chip appears more efficient, as the handset managed an extra hour and a quarter from the same battery capacity.

Motorola Moto G10 review: Camera

The Moto G10 has a somewhat excessive four-camera array, at least two of which could probably be dismissed as being a bit gimmicky. Still, you can’t fault the ambition, especially given the Moto G9 Power and G9 Play had “only” three. In this case, you’re getting a 48MP f/1.7 main sensor, an 8MP f/2.2 ultra-wide angle snapper, a 2MP f/2.4 macro unit and another 2MP f/2.4 depth sensor.

I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the images captured by the Moto G10, especially given the general sluggishness of the camera app itself. In well-lit conditions, it’s very capable of taking decent, detailed shots.

In fact, compared directly to the Moto G30, I probably prefer the Moto G10’s pictures. The colours may be a bit colder, but when you zoom in, there seems to be a bit more detail and less blur.

An interesting side note, here. While the Moto G10 lets you switch from the default pixel-binned 12MP to the full 48MP version, the Moto G30 doesn’t have that option. Perhaps that’s something that Motorola will change with a software update at some point, but honestly the combined-pixel images are so good that you’re not missing much.

While this quality of photography on a £130 phone is nothing short of excellent, the real challenge comes when darkness begins to creep in. However, this is yet another pleasant surprise: at sunset in my garden, the camera coped pretty well despite the ridiculous high winds that insisted on moving branches around every time I tried to take a shot.

Here, however, Moto G30 buyers get the value from their extra £30 with better image processing, with less visual noise and a sharper picture when zoomed in.

To be clear, neither is anything to write home about, but it’s important not to be too harsh. These are, after all, phones that sell for £130 and £160 respectively, and Motorola can be proud of the camera performance of both.

The 8MP, f/2.2 front-facing camera does the job as well. Motorola has left beautification settings turned off by default, and you can see that’s a wise decision as my face gets gradually more mushy from left to right.

There’s no option to change any of the video settings on the Moto G10, but the footage captured is 1080p at 30fps with some electronic stablisation applied. Video is stable enough, but it’s a little soft and struggles with sharp movements.

Motorola Moto G10 review: Verdict

The Moto G10 certainly has a lot going for it. It looks good, packs a decent screen and camera for its low cost of entry, and has a formidable battery life. At £130, it’s well-priced, but it feels sluggish out of the box and that problem is only going to get worse over time.

If you can afford the extra £30 SIM-free – an increase that will be barely noticeable if you take it out on contract – then the Moto G30 certainly justifies the extra cost. But at the same time, that’s a 23% increase over the SIM-free RRP, and if you’re on a tight budget then that might not be doable.

If that applies to you, then the Moto G10 is still a worthy low-cost handset. It may not be the fastest around, but it remains superb value.

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